The headlights in front of the car were slim, white beams surrounded by darkness. The narrow vision and the speed gave Rebecca a heady thrill. It reminded her of when she was a child and she would run through the woods with paper towel rolls tied over her eyes like binoculars.
She felt invincible.
Rebecca’s car straddled the double line. Her foot lay heavily on the gas pedal. She was not running away — just seeking a momentary escape. Just an hour or two alone with her thoughts and her music. Rebecca cranked the stereo up for her favorite song.
She knew she was driving too fast for a narrow country road at night. Mist obscured her view as she swerved around blind corners. But she doubted she’d see anyone on this road at two in the morning. It was autumn and all children would be asleep in their beds. Throw caution to the wind!
Suddenly, a white patch of white fur skittered across the road in front of her car. Rebecca accelerated and held the steering wheel steady. The front wheel thumped as the rabbit hit the bumper. The sound jolted her.
Rebecca drove on for another hundred meters until she found a driveway to turn around in. She was horrified by her own reaction. Had she hit the rabbit on purpose? What scared her most was the rush of satisfaction she had felt the instant the car had hit the rabbit.
She slowed the car as she neared the site of the accident. Her headlights glimmered on the red smeared asphalt. It was a moment before she saw the body. She turned off the stereo.
The rabbit was not dead.
She had broken its lower spine. The rabbit was now clawing across the road toward the ditch, dragging its limp legs behind. It was bleeding to death. She would have to drive over the rabbit again to put it out of its misery.
Although she was ashamed, Rebecca could not bring herself to do it. Nor could she bring herself to stop and get out of the car.
She merely drove slowly on.
The brake lights made the road behind her glow red. She did not look behind, but instead fixed her eyes on the slim, white lights in front.
Emanuella Martin graduated from California State University, Chico with a degree in journalism. She has written feature stories for the Chico News & Review, The Orion, and for KCHO, the local public radio station. One of her cover stories for CN&R took 14th place in the National Hearst Feature Writing Competition. She is now living in New Jersey with her husband and working on her first novel.